Prayed for teachers, students during comments
A Memphis teachers union is upset that a school board member told teachers “it’s time to go back to work” and encouraged them to greet students with a good attitude when school reopened for in-person learning this week.
“Many teachers still don’t want to go back to work tomorrow, but you know what, you got paid for March to May, and I didn’t say anything, and most of you didn’t do anything,” Althea Greene said on a Facebook Live Sunday. The Shelby County Schools board member is also a minister and said the comments during a message to her congregation.
“You’ve been teaching at home virtual since August, September, October, November, December, January, February alright, it’s time to go back to work,” Greene said. She later told news station Local 24 that her comments were directed only at teachers in her congregation.
A teachers union leader criticized Greene’s statement.
“You said it as if we were lazy, shiftless, want something for nothing, that is not true,” Keith Williams, the director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association told Fox 13, which published the full video in its article.
“That is not true. We worked too hard and too long to strengthen the students of this district to be insulted in that kind of a way,” Williams said.
Greene also said that “science” supports reopening and reminded teachers that the school board had set up three days of vaccination opportunities for teachers.
“Shame on you. We have done our part as school board commissioners, as the superintendent,” the minister said. “We have done everything to stand up for teachers to advocate for you, to fight for you, and make sure you had an opportunity to get a vaccine.”
Greene also told teachers to have a good attitude. “Children don’t deserve your nasty, funky, sour attitude when they arrive back in the morning, and I mean it just like I said it,” Greene said.
“You still don’t use a public platform to impugn the quality and the veracity of teachers. It is inappropriate at all levels,” Williams said.
“If they misinterpret what I said, then I apologize, but I meant the things that I said yesterday to the people that I was addressing, and I think we have to be real clear of that,” Greene told Fox 13 in response to the criticism of her comments.
The Sunday Facebook Live also encouraged parents to help their kids prepare for a return to a classroom and included a prayer for a safe return.
During the four and a half minute segment, Greene encouraged parents to send their kids to school with masks, hand sanitizer and water bottles.
She also prayed for all the teachers, students and staff at the school and encouraged her congregation to donate supplies to local schools.
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